I don’t think anyone was really surprised when former Representative Gabby Giffords announced last week that she would resign her seat in the House of Representatives, but many were grieved nonetheless. After surviving a would-be assassin’s shot to her head, she showed tremendous grit and determination as she fought for her life and undertook therapy to regain her speech and ability to walk.
Gifford’s progress has been greater than anyone had a right to expect, given the devastating damage to her brain. But on the first anniversary of the shooting, Giffords decided to resign her seat, announcing her intention in a video she posted on Facebook.
Most reactions included admiration for her tenacity, praise for her as a person and encouragement for her continued recovery. Many mentioned her commitment to bipartisanship. As Giffords departs from public life for the intense work of healing and recovery, here are some excerpts from the outpouring of goodwill expressed by colleagues across the political spectrum.
President Obama: “Gabby’s cheerful presence will be missed in Washington. But she will remain an inspiration to all whose lives she touched—myself included.”
Vice President Joe Biden: “I know that Gabby will continue to make significant contributions to her state and country, and I stand with her in whatever endeavor she decides to pursue.”
Close friends in Congress:
“I am so proud of my friend for her commitment to her constituents, for her work ethic and her perseverance.” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
“an extraordinary woman of fierce drive, determination and courage” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Colleagues in Arizona:
“a noble public servant to the State of Arizona, and a model of what can be accomplished with persistence and determination” Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ)
“courage in the face of tragedy” Former senator John McCain (R-AZ)
“Gabby is a class act whose accomplishments and dedication to bettering our state and nation will continue in the years to come.” Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
Colleagues from other states:
“Gabby Giffords commitment to her constituents, service to the country, tremendous strength, and message of civility is an inspiration to us all.” Rep. John Larson (D-CT)
“Gabby is a wonderful friend and I will deeply miss her presence in Washington, DC. … She embodies the spirit of bipartisanship that we should all learn from…. She is compassionate, tenacious, and relentless in her love for America.” Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX)
Giffords exemplifies the best in the human spirit just as her attacker typifies the worst. Who knows what set of circumstances really motivated him? Fortunately, such disturbed individuals are relatively very few in the total population. Unfortunately, there aren’t many like Gabby Giffords. Legions of admirers across the country continue to wish her every success in her personal healing and hope to see her taking an active role in public life once again.